The Rise of Women-Only Climbing Events


Saturday, 30 September

More and more females are pushing the limits of our sport not only athletically but also professionally. Now there are women route setters, women managing climbing gyms, and women only climbing events put on by and for women! We think such equality is a cause for celebration and have interviewed a top female route setter from the US, Sarah Filler, about her thoughts on the topic.

Q: How many women only events have you participated in?
A: I’ve participated in two women-only events. The first being the Woman Up comp at Touchstone in San Francisco and the second being the She Sets Setters Showdown at L’escalade in Kentucky.

Q: How many years have you been climbing and / or working in the industry?
A:  I’ve been climbing since March of 2006 and working in the climbing industry as a setter for 10 years.

Q: What effect, if any, do you think these events are having on the future of women in our sport?
A: These events help promote and highlight females working hard to achieve the levels of success they have in the climbing industry. By having a stage for women to stand on and show off their accomplishments, other females will be inspired and have the confidence to chase their goals not only within the sport, but also within their own lives.

Q: Any areas for growth in the success of these events?
A: One area where there can be growth is through women gaining more experience by organizing these events. Because women are still fighting for their place in the climbing industry, many of us have not yet gained the experience of organizing as large-scale events as these have turned out to be.

Q: Positivity that has come because of the events?
A: For me, getting the chance to work with all female setters has been amazing. It’s a much easier environment to work in because it doesn’t feel like a competition between setters where egos can sometimes get in the way; we’re working more as a team that understands that the end product isn’t just for us individually. I also think it’s providing a lot of positive feedback to women by showing them that they’re capable of doing anything a male can do in the climbing industry by creating a more open and welcoming environment that maybe was more intimidating to break into because it currently is so male dominated.

Q: Do you feel like climbing has helped you in any of the following ways: come to terms with femininity, sexuality, give confidence, come of age, become more aware of health, make friends, feel a stable community connection, etc?
A: YES. I started climbing when I was 13 so a lot of what I’ve learned in life and about myself has come from climbing and the community. Climbing and working as a routesetter in the climbing industry for a long time has given me so much confidence in myself and my ability to succeed. I wouldn’t be where I am today without having the confidence to push myself in routesetting. I also have made a lot of close climbing friends who are very supportive and psyched to see everyone around them succeed in climbing. Also more recently I’ve made a lot more female climbing/setting friends from these events, which is so helpful and exciting.

Q: Anything else to add?
A: Consideration/ Style: Thinking about it, I think it’s easier to set for an all woman comp because I can worry less about anyone trying to skip hold because they’re way too tall, everyone is a little closer to my height. I don’t think my style changes much either. I think women are just as capable of climbing the boulders that I would normally set so they don’t need to be modified just because only females are climbing on them.

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